Flight Control HD Review

   10/06/2010 at 20:37       Richard Horne       1 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Flight Control HD Review, Firemint, Flight Control, Air Hostess, iPad

Second only to EA’s recently released Mirror’s Edge, Firemint’s Flight Control was one of my most anticipated iPad games. The original iPhone game sold countless millions and catapulted its Australian developer from a relative nobody into one of the key players in this new hand-held, cut-price, casual, games space.

In fact its arrival was a defining moment in the history of the iTunes App store. For months things had followed a similar trend to the early days of the Nintendo’s DS, where most developers were stuck in the me-too rut of trying to shoe-horn traditional gaming experiences onto Apple’s touch-screen device and thereby completely missing the point. But Firemint had the foresight to embrace what was unique about the iPhone and created a perfectly-pitched experience that was the epitome of intuitive. And, like so many popular gaming experiences before it, this inherent simplicity made for a hugely compulsive and addictive gaming experience that’s seldom been bettered.

Its premise is simple. Planes of various sizes, shapes and speeds randomly appear at the edges of the screen following a random trajectory – though I’m sure there’s some mischievous programming going on in the background that makes them deliberately fly into the path of other planes. It’s your job to draw a line from the plane to its appropriate runway, skillfully avoiding any other landing aircraft.

The iPad version is almost identical to its smaller brother, and while the increased resolution instantly makes the whole experience appear initially grander and more fetching, in actual fact, more pixels means more runways to manage, which means it’s arguable that the iPad version is even more taxing.

The iPad’s coup de grace is its enhanced multi-touch which allows it to register input from more than 2 fingers simultaneously. This opens the game up perfectly for multiplayer with both co-op and competitive play catered for. Co-op sees one single play field shared by two players who must help each other out in order to earn the highest combined score. Competitive play meanwhile, splits the screen across the middle and gives each player his/her own set of runways. The inevitable trash-talk that results from competitive play, however, is soon undermined by the fact that if one player’s plane crashes, it’s game over for both players. Perhaps three lives each would have been a better option. But then again, thanks to the ease at which developers can further update their games, this may well be added in the future. There's also wireless multiplayer if you happen to ever manage to get two iPads in the same room simultaneously.

Flight Control HD features numerous varied levels: you can play on dry-land, in open-waters landing your planes on aircraft carriers, or even in the Australian outback where the game will congratulate each successfull landing with a typically colloquial expression such as 'Bonzer' or 'on ya mate'. There's also a 3D filter that can be enabled for if you happen to own a set of traditional blue/green filtered 3D glasses. Thankfully - and this is a new addition to the game - early on the pace can be relatively sedate, so it's now possible to fast-forward the pace in order to get things moving quicker. Thankfully, imminent collisions instantly reduce the speed back to normal and trigger an alarm to grab your attention.

Overall then, Flight Control HD *spits*, is an essential iPad purchase and even more so if you’ve never played the original iPhone version. It’s compelling, irresistible and thanks to the insanely quick boot-up speed of the iPad, perfect to play during those moments where you have 5/10 minutes to kill. At £2.99 it’s pretty damned cheap too, but be warned, the theme-tune will get in your head.

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